When I have facilitated our Budgeting workshops at the Credit Union a frequently asked member question is “when and how often should I pay my bills during the month?”
My answer is simple; don’t do it randomly, but set up some type of schedule. What I mean is you should work out a schedule that best fits into your lifestyle and is easy enough that it becomes part of your routine. Here are a few things to consider:
What does my monthly cash flow look like?
Are there bills that need to be paid at a specific time of the month?
What other circumstances are in my life that could affect when I pay my bills?
Remember 35% of your credit score is based on paying your bills on time so having a solid routine for paying bills is critical to keeping a good credit rating.
For most people cash flow is the driving force when it comes to paying bills. The key is to match your cash flow to your bills so you have the cash when it’s needed. If you are the only one in the household with an income and you are paid the same amount every month on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly schedule it becomes much easier. But if there is other income coming in from other sources you will need to coordinate that a little. Many folks match certain paychecks to certain bills using payment dates as a guide. That way you can ensure you will cover those big bills like a mortgage or rent, or other important payments like a car loan. Having a calendar showing when certain bills come due is a great way of mapping out your payment schedule.
It’s important to note that you should treat savings just like a bill…meaning “Pay yourself first”. So work in your regular savings into your bill paying equation. I find using payroll deduction into my savings account is the easiest way to ensure this is accomplished on a consistent basis.
One of the ways I have found to keep up with my bills is to find a set time to pay them each week. For some it might be every other week. I’m lucky because I have a paycheck each week so my cash flow is the same week to week. I have also found if I pay bills once a week they don’t pile up and I am never late. In the past when I would wait and randomly pay bills I would always open one up and realize it’s due TODAY! So paying weekly helps me avoid those late fees. Another good idea I found with paying credit cards is to have the minimum payment on auto pay and when the bill comes I make a second payment to lower the balance. I’m always on time and paying down the balance each month.